Jones scores career-high 36 in 80-60 win over New Mexico JC




Boy, that really escalated quickly.

Friday's game against No. 14 New Mexico Junior College was supposed to be the first real challenge of the season for the Garden City Community College women's basketball team. And for 20 minutes, maybe it was, as the Lady Broncbusters nursed just a three-point lead at halftime.

But then Tamara Jones led GCCC on a 19-0 run to start the second half, as Garden City won its first game of the Thanksgiving Classic, 80-60, at the Perryman Athletic Complex.

Jones had a career-high 36 points and played maybe her best all-around game as a Buster.

"That's some of the best I've seen Tamara Jones play," GCCC head coach Alaura Sharp said. "She's been good this season, she's been good consistently, but tonight was just huge for her. She finished great, I felt like she never missed a shot. She got herself to the free throw line, and she made them when she was there."

Jones was 10-of-15 from the field, including 2-of-3 on 3-pointers, and 14-of-17 from the free-throw line. She added 11 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals in just more than 30 minutes of playing time. Jones' previous high in points was 30, which she did three times last season.

The sophomore from Prosser, Wash., did most of her damage inside, working down low to get layups and draw fouls. Her second 3-pointer, a deep shot from well past the arc, made it 49-27 with 14:24 to play. Jones finished the game with four fouls, but the sometimes foul-prone forward didn't get her third until there were about 10 minutes left in the game, and the Busters (8-0) were up by 19 points.

New Mexico (5-2) didn't get its first points of the second half until Katharina Muller made a layup with 13:54 to go. The Lady Thunderbirds' leading scorer, Muller finished with 17 points, mostly after the Busters already had pulled ahead by nearly 20 points. At one point, Jones had 31 points to New Mexico's 38. Stacie Telles added 10 points, while Valerie Barriga and Jashae Lee added seven apiece.

New Mexico didn't get a lot of good looks on offense.

"I think we did really good on defense," Jones said. "Everybody did super good. We did what we needed to do."

"Our team was really prepared," Sharp said. "We had them, I think, well-scouted, and our players bought in to getting over help-side."

Early on, it was an exceedingly sloppy game. The Busters and T-Birds combined for 25 turnovers in the first half, and GCCC was up just 30-27 at the break.

New Mexico didn't score its first points of the game until 14:52 of the first half, and Garden City had jumped to a 5-0 lead. The trouble was, the Busters turned it over so often they weren't able to extend the margin. The score was tied twice, and the lead changed six times in the first half, largely due to neither team being able to protect the ball enough to go on a run.

The Busters try to play up-tempo, but they might have tried to play too fast early on.

"I think that our impatience is our biggest weakness right now," Sharp said. "We just get very impatient on offense, trying to break their press. We just really end up beating ourselves, shooting ourselves in the foot. So that's an area that we've really got to show them on film and get us to make smarter plays more consistently."

At halftime, Sharp told her team to slow down. And as a result, the Busters rolled out 10 points in the first 2:51 of the second half, getting a put-back from Mikell Chinn, a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer from Jones, and a Shicole Watts' 3-point play after being fouled on a layup.

Garden City was able to work the ball inside to Watts, who had 12 points, and Jones, and the Busters got to the free-throw line 43 times to just 22 for the T-Birds. Tahlia Pope added six points and was effective driving to the rim and drawing fouls, finishing 5-for-11 from the free-throw line.

All it took was a little more patience.

"We decided that we needed to be patient, and by being patient, we could get easier shots," Jones said. "Play calm instead of rushed."

The Busters finished with 21 turnovers and 24 fouls. And a bout of shoving partway through the second half resulted in technical fouls on players from both teams.

But a 20-point victory over a ranked team, in a game filled with miscues, still serves as a statement win.

"Yes, very much," Jones said. "We knew that they were ranked, and we were ranked, too, but if we keep beating these ranked teams, we're obviously going to keep getting higher and higher and higher."

Due to a paperwork issue, the Busters weren't included in the newest NJCAA poll, released Wednesday. They were ranked No. 14 the week before.

Garden City plays Trinidad State, which it beat 69-61 last week, at 5:30 p.m. today.


New Mexico (5-2)--Mulder 0-1 0-0 0, Telles 3-15 2-4 10, Muller 4-13 7-8 17, Barriga 3-5 0-0 7, Simpson 3-6 0-1 6, Jones 0-2 2-2 2, Mason 3-4 0-2 6, Jdily-Ezzad 0-0 1-2 1, Lee 1-5 2-3 4, Caspers 3-3 0-0 7. Totals: 20-54 14-22 60.

Garden City (8-0)--Jones 10-15 14-17 36, Watts 5-12 2-3 12, Pope 1-7 5-11 6, Chinn 1-3 1-2 3, Goble 2-5 0-0 6, Jacobs 1-1 6-8 8, Green 0-3 0-0 0, Chisom 2-2 0-0 5, Maxwell 0-0 1-2 1, Young 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 23-50 29-43 80.

Halftime-- Garden City 30-27. 3-point goals--NM: 6-18 (Mulder 0-1, Telles 2-7, Muller 2-4, Barriga 1-2, Mason 0-1, Lee 0-2, Caspers 1-1); GC: 5-11 (Jones 2-3, Pope 0-1, Goble 2-3, Green 0-3, Chisom 1-1). Fouled out--NM: Muller, Jones. Assists--NM: 11 (Muller, Barriga, Jones 2); GC: 20 (Jones, Pope, Chinn, Goble 3). Rebounds--NM: 28 (Lee 7); GC: 47 (Jones 11). Turnovers--NM: 20; GC: 21. Total fouls--NM: 29; GC: 24.

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